Trade Association Fighting Appeals Court Indemnity Ruling against Subcontractors

A recent “friends of the court” brief on the part of the American Subcontractors Association and its Minnesota affiliate/chapter is seeking to overturn an appeals court decision that could leave subcontractors in a precarious spot.

A recent appeals court decision in Engineering & Construction Innovations, INC. v. L.H. Bolduc Co. Inc has overturned a previous district court and jury decision that barred a general contractor from shifting liability for damage caused during a project. The subcontractor in question alleges it had no part in the damage. ASA noted that a jury found the general contractor at fault for the damage, to a pipeline.

ASA is now urging the Supreme Court of Minnesota to uphold its interpretation of the state’s anti-indemnity law in order to protect subcontractors from such liability.

"Engineering & Construction Innovations, Inc., v. L.H. Bolduc Co., Inc. is one of those unfortunate cases where there’s damage during construction, everyone runs from liability, there’s litigation, and there’s no real clear cut answer as to who should or who is going to pay for the repairs,” said Greg Powelson, director of NACM’s Mechanic’s Lien and Bond Service (MLBS). “It doesn’t surprise me that the prime tried to push down liability, but I think the case [appeals court ruling] will be overturned. I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone if, in the end, the subcontractor is not held liable for damages it didn’t’ cause. I believe, at the end of the day, logic and cooler heads will once again ultimately prevail, and the prime will have to pay for the damage.”

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

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